USA Funds surveys of students who had received personal finance education through their college or university disclose that nine of 10 respondents changed how they manage their personal finances and college life.
Among the 1,522 students who responded to the quarterly surveys, 90 percent reported changing at least one financial or college success behavior after completing lessons of USA Funds Life Skills, an online financial literacy and student success curriculum for college students. Of those students reporting changes in their personal finance behaviors, the respondents reported making an average of 10 behavioral changes.
The five behavioral changes most frequently cited by the survey respondents — along with the number of respondents citing each change — are as follows:
- I consider if an item is a need or want before purchasing it and spend less on wants. (885 respondents.)
- I established educational, financial and/or career goals. (879 respondents.)
- I researched and understand the requirements to complete my program of study. (813 respondents.)
- I spend more time on activities that help me achieve my educational, financial and career goals. (728 respondents.)
- I use new or different strategies to manage stressful situations. (718 respondents.)
USA Funds invited all students who had completed at least one USA Funds Life Skills lesson between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011, to complete an online survey. Respondents could choose from a list of 25 possible personal finance behavior change statements, including topics related to managing school life and student loans, managing student finances and managing personal life issues.
“These results indicate that regular exposure to personal finance education can help college students adopt habits that promote completion of their college programs, as well as sound spending and saving practices and wiser use of credit,” said Denise B. Feser, USA Funds senior vice president, School and Student Services.
In addition to quarterly follow-up surveys, USA Funds assesses the impact of USA Funds Life Skills lessons in the following ways:
- Student Attitudes. In a survey offered immediately after a student completes a USA Funds Life Skills lesson, students are asked about their plans to use what they learned. Based on 4,266 surveys completed since February 2012, 93.7 percent of students reported an intent to change a behavior as a result of the lesson. Students rated the likelihood they would use information provided in the lessons as an average of 4.3 on a scale on which 5 designates “very likely.”
- Student Knowledge. Students correctly answered an average of 87.7 percent of the questions on post-lesson assessments that follow each USA Funds Life Skills lesson. The result is based on 84,823 lessons completed during the 2011-2012 academic year.
USA Funds Life Skills is a Web-based financial literacy and student success program designed to help students learn to manage their money and time wisely while in school and after graduation. The curriculum includes 34 lessons that cover a range of topics, including paying for college, managing student loans, managing money and credit, living on a budget, setting goals, preparing for graduation and balancing school and personal life.